SAN FRANCISCO — After finishing his remarks at Microsoft’s press event in San Francisco today, with the live webcast over, new CEO Satya Nadella spoke with reporters for about five minutes, addressing questions on Microsoft’s strategy, and how the new Office for iPad fits in.
Here was one of the questions Nadella was asked: What would he say to Windows 8 tablet users who don’t yet have their own “touch-first” version of Office, who now see that Microsoft is releasing native versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint for Apple’s tablet first?
“We are committed to making sure that these touch-first applications come to Windows 8,” he said, hinting at more news to come during Microsoft’s Build conference next week.
Continue reading for more excerpts from his remarks to reporters.
On the new Microsoft Office for iPad: It’s not just a trivial thing, like let’s just take Word and port from Windows to a device. It’s been at work for a while. What I plan to do going forward is to make sure that we as an organization are aggressively moving forward on our mobile-first, cloud-first agenda with no friction. This is a first step. You’ll see us next week at Build talk about a lot of the things that we are doing, and the week after you’re going to be hearing me talk a lot about our data work.
In all of these cases, these are all things that we’ve worked on, but you can absolutely be assured that we will kick into high gear. Like anything that has been in the works for a long time, you have these bursts where things come together.
What he would say to Windows 8 users who don’t yet have a ‘touch-first’ version of Office: We are committed to making sure that these touch-first applications come to Windows 8. Today, if you think about the loyal Windows customer, they have fantastic desktop-mode applications, and you’ll see us talk even more about it next week, in terms of what innovation we are doing on that platform.
The key thing that I want to get out of is thinking about all of these things as trade-offs. I want to do my best work on Windows and I want to do my best work on iPad, and I want all of that to accrue to Office. That’s how we’re going to approach the Office vision and Office roadmap going forward.
But what about the trade-offs? The reason why I said it’s not a trade-off for us is that it’s really about being able to go where the opportunity is, and the opportunity here is to go with the customer. If we can serve customers who expect our Office 365 everywhere well, in a competitive way, in a competitivey differentiated way, we’ll do well. That is really what is existential for us.
It’s not a tactical decision about today’s share positions, given today’s form factors, because in the full arc of time there will be many new platforms that will be birthed that will require Office, some big screen, some small screen, and we need to keep aggressively moving forward on all of those. But the real vision here is to make Office 365 everywhere the core driver for us.
Should Wall Street be ready for a rocky path here in the short term? I would leave it to Wall Street to do the analysis on this, but what we are going after here is going after huge opportunities ahead for us. We have been very successful in the past, but if you think about the overall IT spend, overall spend in consumer for IT products is going to increase, and we will compete vigorously and get our growth out of it.
What does this mean for the future of Microsoft’s devices strategy? The future of our devices strategy is that we will innovate on Windows, both at the operating system level. We are looking forward for the Nokia acquisition to complete next month, and you will see us aggressively move forward with great innovations, which is the combination of devices that we make, first-party; the operating system we build; and even partnerships we will have with third parties.
So there is the Windows strategy, there’s no change, except that we want to be known as the innovative company, that’s coming from behind in some categories. If you look at the story of Windows, we lead in some, and we have fallen behind in some. We are grounded in that reality. So that means what we need to be is a challenger there, and we need to be able to show what we’re capable of doing in these form factors, and that’s what you can expect, and next week you’ll hear more.